6 August 2015
Results from the LEAP study, Learning Early About Peanuts, published earlier this year have now been endorsed by several international immunology organisations, including the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Their consensus statement effectively reverses guidelines which for the last 15 years have advised parents away from introducing peanut products to infants, and in many cases delaying or avoiding introducing this protein source completely. Instead, the new research provides evidence the early introduction of peanuts offers protection from the development of peanut allergies says Gut Immunology team leader Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Forbes-Blom.
Research of this size, involving 600 children over a five year period, is a defining moment, she says, At age five the children who had been given peanut-containing foods as infants were much less likely to have developed a peanut allergy than those who had been avoiding peanuts.
There may have been good intention in the original advice in 2000 from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Nutrition, but this evidence, if adopted into New Zealand guidelines could slow the rate of hyper-allergic children we are seeing; the so-called Generation Allergy.
While the consensus statement is not a cure or new approach for those with an existing peanut allergy, prevention remains our best hope to reduce peanut allergy in children.